La Rêveuse

Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre: Sonates pour violon, viole obligée & basse-continue

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Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, "presumably" depicted in a contemporary portrait on the cover of this release from France's Mirare label, was a keyboardist and composer in the orbit of, although not directly connected with, the court of Louis XV of France. Her music tends to show up on collections of compositions by women, but this release by the group La Rêveuse, with violinist Stéphan Dudermel in the spotlight, accomplishes more by focusing on a single genre in which Jacquet de la Guerre, it seems, had a major impact on French Baroque music. Composed mostly in the first decade of the 18th century, these violin sonatas and trio sonatas date from 15 years or more before Couperin's grand effort to reunite the French and Italian tastes, and in fact they are among the first stirrings of the Corelli style and Italian High Baroque instrumental music in France. The sonatas consist mostly of Italianate sonata movements with a few French dances thrown in, but what's most attractive is Jacquet de la Guerre's way of manipulating Corelli's liking for sequential constructions to produce an affecting sentimentality; her movement structures are both thematically tight and charming in a very French way. Sample the opening Grave movements of the first two sonatas (tracks 1 and 7). La Rêveuse captures this quality nicely, although it's hampered by icily harsh sound reverberating from the walls of the church where the music was recorded. The entire question of whether music by women is distinctive due to gender is a vexed one, with some of the arguments emanating from academia failing to meet even a standard of verifiability that would be considered acceptable in an astrology clinic. But this pioneering recording provides plenty of food for thought. Notes are in French, German, and English of a sort.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Suonata 2da a violino solo e viola di gamba obligate con organ (la mineur) (Ms. Vm7-1111, Paris BN)
1 2:21
2 3:28
3 1:09
4 1:53
5 1:10
6 3:00
Sonata I pour violon, viole obligée et basse-continue (ré mineur) (Paris - 1707)
7 2:55
8 2:00
9 2:45
10 1:54
11 3:43
12 2:22
13 1:47
14 2:25
Suonata 1ma a violino solo e viola di gamba obligata con organo (la mineur) (Ms. Vm7-1111 - Paris BN)
15 1:21
16 1:30
17 2:50
18 4:31
Sonata III pour violon, viole obligée et basse-continue (Fa Majeur) (Paris - 1707)
19 1:29
20 1:31
21 1:43
22 2:01
23 2:17
24 4:50
Sonata IV pour violon, viole obligée et basse-continue (Sol Majeur) (Paris - 1707)
25 1:20
26 2:00
27 3:13
28 2:40
blue highlight denotes track pick